Welcome to the Neighborhood

We met at a block party, as neighbors often do, especially in Hillsdale, our tree-lined piece of the Portland, Oregon world. We talked, shared our food and our stories and found that the three of us were writers. Marilyn and Lyssa live right next door to each other with their husbands and cats. The squirrels are unsure where the property line lies and travel freely between the two tree-surrounded houses. Theresa lives up the road with more cats than we care to mention. And a dog. And a kid. And more cats.

Checking our schedules that are filled with jobs and projects and other family and friends, we set a weekly time and day in stone. Tuesdays. We meet every Tuesday without fail. And we write. We walk from house to house. We drink tea and focus on the pen. Writing together keeps us committed to exercising our writing muscles, while giving us a guaranteed time to embrace our passion. We revel in one another’s unique voices, fascinated by the different paths a simple prompt can take us. Reading aloud, we inspire and challenge each other to hone our skills and take risks with new ways of writing.

We share and we delight in the writing process. We hope you will find our artistic community an inspiration to start one of your own!

Lyssa Tall Anolik

I spend a lot of time staring at the Douglas-fir trees outside my window. I’m easily distracted by falling leaves, birds, squirrels and my cat, Toolie, who sits on my keyboard when she decides I’m not paying enough attention to her. In fact, my writing is much like my cat—by turns insistent, sticking its wet nose in my face, and aloof, slinking off into a quiet corner to demand space.

When I’m not writing, I tutor school kids and teach creative writing classes for adults at the Multnomah Arts Center. I earned my MFA in Writing from Vermont College and, earlier, a BS in Forestry from the University of Washington (which explains my affinity for tall needly green things). I originally hail from Seattle, but have lived in Portland since 2001. I have a passion for traveling, hiking, amphibians, and the color orange. Contact Lyssa

Marilyn McFarlane

I sometimes complain that my life runs like a ball in a pinball machine, spinning crazily from one thing to the next. A friend told me my complaint sounded more like a rich full life. I have a husband, four daughters and numerous adored grandchildren. Two fuzzy, skittish cats who don’t mind being petted on their terms. A piano that wants to be played more. Friends, books, music, spirituality, cookery, world and local causes, walks. And oh, yes, a writing career. A freelancer writes whatever she’s paid to write.

I’ve written everything from How To Automate Your Car Dealership to Special Birthday Parties for Children. My favorites: travel writing and a book for children, Sacred Myths: Stories of World Religions. And lately, for the sheer fun of it, every week I drop everything and write like crazy with the Writers next door.

Contact Marilyn

Theresa Leonard

Theresa Writes. She writes and stares into space. The words travel with speed from her mind to the page in unruly and troublesome lines. They run out as if they had nowhere else to go and make running passes at telling a story, then drivel on in meaningless words that can sound really nice when read aloud.

Some day, she thinks that her writing will help others and perhaps, make them smile. But for now, she writes to keep her mind from running onto paths that were made by aliens many, many years ago. All of the pieces are things that come from her heart, her memories, and her slightly twisted mind. All the pieces, like baby aliens, need to fly. So she’s decided to let them fly here. At her side, her dog Sadie waits patiently and wonders if she’ll ever get away from that pen and keyboard and put a ball in her hand…

Contact Theresa